Communicating With The Converted


At Wark Communications we work primarily with smaller winery clients. Sometimes medium. Rarely large.  The smaller wineries don’t have huge budgets. They need to really target their communications efforts. They need to do more education efforts than branding work. And they need their communications tools to do double and triple duty.

This is exactly the sort of thing that is happening with one client over at eGullet right now.

Billed as the "Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, eGullet is a community of very dedicated and committed food and wine lovers. Many write about the subject. Others simply rejoice in food and wine. Either way, it is the kind of community that WANTS to be educated. For a winery to be able to do this on a regular basis, in an interactive way is exactly what I want to see our winery clients do.

Bucklin Winery was given this opportunity when Mary Baker of Dover Canyon Winery (and its blog), who seems to run the wine forum at eGullet, asked around for a winery/vineyard to maintain a season-long "blog" for eGullet members. The idea was to document in posts and pictures the pace and activities in a vineyard.

Bucklin is a client at Wark Communications and seemed like the perfect candidate for Mary’s search. Their winery is based primarily on the 150 year old "OLD HILL RANCH", a Zinfandel based field blend vineyard that contains more than two dozen varietals. I put it to the winemaker and vineyard caretaker at Bucklin, Will Bucklin: would you be willing to commit to writing all year long about what happens in the Old Hill Vineyard?

He jumped at the chance. Will LIKES talking about his vineyard. I knew that much. But I was very pleased when he immediately agreed to write the vineyard blog for eGullet, even though I warned him it meant regular and detailed written updates.

The reason I was so excited is because it’s simply rare for a very small winery owner to have the chance to dialogue with such a committed group of food and wine folk. Too often we write buzz words, short 2 paragraph pieces that must tell your entire story and then there is rarely a mechanism for communicating WITH your audience.

It’s marketing, in a way. But its something more for Bucklin. It’s a chance for Will to be educated as he’s educating. The folk who travel the eGullet forums where this "blog/forum" will be carried out are not shy, can be verbose and very insightful. Sure, he gets to tell motivated food and wine types about his vineyard and wines. But he’s also about to get an education. And that’s just as valuable as any PR effort I or he can carry out on behalf of his wines.


2 Responses

  1. Mary Baker - February 8, 2006

    Thank you, Tom. We are delighted to have Will doing the vintage blog for us this year in the eGullet Society wine forum. Especially as the winery is not open to the public, this is a rare peek into a very special operation!

  2. Mike Duffy - February 8, 2006

    I’m always interested in understanding the actual economics. If it’s not too impertinent to ask, what might a typical “small winery” budget look like for their communications efforts?
    Where do *you* draw the small/medium lines? We did our segments for the statistic in The Winery Web Site Report at 1,500 cases and fewer / 2,500 / 4,000 / 10,000 / 40,000 / 100,000 cases and up.
    (PS – nice post, and congrats/good luck to Will & Bucklin)

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